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Comments on my notes

(49 comments on 43 notes)

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Red
1988 Bouchard Père et Fils Beaune 1er Cru Grèves Vigne de L'Enfant Jesus Pinot Noir
I've been blessed by a few bottles of this vintage of the Baby Jesus over the years and this may have been the best yet. Hauntingly pretty aromatics and a beautiful, mostly resolved palate. Perfumed and spiced on the nose with little whiffs of underbrush, game, and sandalwood. Fine fruit and resolving structure and a luxuriating, lingering finish to the palate. There's splendid inner mouth perfume and a fine bit of the peacock's tail. Bottle courtesy of SH.
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    2/3/23, 3:16 AM - My friend brought the bottle. If I recall it was double decanted for sediment and brought to the restaurant. It was served following Champagne and white wines. So possibly 2-1/2 to 3 hours after opening? Sorry I can’t be more precise.

Red
2016 Domaine Jamet Côtes du Rhône Syrah
1/17/2023 - JohnMcIlwain wrote:
Given that expectations are the bugaboo of “fine” wine enjoyment, please view this note with that particular jaundiced eye. The name Jamet inspires a lot of emotions for Rhône fans. Benchmark Côte-Rôtie! High premium! Fantastic terroir delineation! Dealing with avaricious distributors (and sometimes importers back in the day). So, what to think about the 2016 Côtes-du-Rhône? The verdict is mixed—at least tonight. Opened an hour in advance of drinking and decanted off (not negligible) sentiment.

The robe is a dark ruby (not purple but hewing that line) with no bricking of note. The nose is a bit stinky upon opening, with reduction, game notes, and a bit of horsy (rather than bandaid-y) brett making itself known. I’ve enjoyed plenty of old Beaucastel, Musar, and Quintarelli, so brett isn’t a deal-breaker, per se; though this is at the outer limits of my tolerance for sure. Black fruits and dried juniper berry appear with some air. Brined peppercorn and cassis notes follow. The palate is mid-weight and has nicely resolving structure, with that black fruit and savory green peppercorn character on the periphery. Tannins are resolving nicely and things are shaded on the herbal rather than opulent side. Still, there’s a bit of heat and an oddly wan core here, that seems to have sacrificed overt ripeness for brett and mouthfeel. And while I won’t say this is flawed, it defies expectations. Hoping this bottle is an outlier, but the next year or two and bottle or two should determine that. By no means undrinkable, but this should offer more given the pedigree and producer.
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    1/18/23, 10:48 AM - @yassine23 Hoping you are correct. Previous bottles were okay, if not thrilling. Probably prefer that more basic Clape bottles than Jamet’s in 2016 at this point.

Red
2014 Château Simone Palette Red Rhone Blend
1/1/2023 - Putnam Weekley Likes this wine:
94 points
After a tall drizzle straight into the drinking bowl my first impression of this thing is that it's remarkably composed and primary. An easygoing musky plum aroma, suggestively rising from buried stone, is an example of accessible, appetizing drinking. It unfolds. Even before taking the first drink I'm taken back to Santa Cruz' Bates Ranch, with that maddening mockery of cherry pulp. Also: licorice, Louisiana coffee, and casually foraged spring herbs. A mouthful portrays various familiar lines of tension—glad and guarded; appealing and profound. A geological column of reference material spills from its wide open pages. Balsam. Breakfast tea. Inconsolable red prunes sobbing with sugar. The texture is brisk and punctuated. Retral sensations of intaglio ink, slate, blueberries, and Musigny.
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    1/1/23, 6:03 PM - Thanks for the note. I have a six-pack tucked away. Simone rules.

White - Sparkling
N.V. Corbon Chardonnay Champagne Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut Avize
11/24/2022 - Gargantua wrote:
Impressed all who tried--somewhat regal, elegant. This brutally outclassed a Calsac Echappée Belle magnum opened directly afterwards.
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    12/1/22, 2:41 PM - Was this the declassified 2011 base?

Red
2005 Clos des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape Red Rhone Blend
11/23/2022 - MuddyBoots wrote:
In an attempt to revive a joy for Chateauneuf that seems to have deserted me for the last five years I opened this for our dinner the evening before Thanksgiving. Decanted an hour. Beautiful soft red with hints of garnet. Is there some oak on the nose ? Brambly red fruit. Some leafy notes. Herbs. Leather after a few more minutes in the glass. Silky on the palate - similarly flavored beautifully complex fruit - almost austere - framed by quite present acid. Rests confidently on the palate before progressing to an impressively long finish. Ripe but substantial tannin show up on the gums, leaving a slight sensation of dryness. Overall shows more elegance and restraint than I expected though neither does it lack for power. Reassuringly wonderful but in a really serious style. This may in fact be quite special. I find with CNP you need to know what to expect since it comes in so many different styles. I have two bottles left and will try and keep my hands off these another five years. Bought on release.
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    11/25/22, 2:13 PM - The Châteauneuf for Burgundy lovers, for sure.

Red
2019 Domaine Des Vignes du Maynes (Julien Guillot) Bourgogne Clos des Vignes du Maynes Cuvée Auguste Pinot Noir
11/4/2022 - bevetroppo wrote:
This is the second bottle of three I purchased from CSW because, I mean, who can resist the story? No chemicals in the vineyard since something like the 10th century and no sulfur in the past 70 years, with all the other Trappists, I mean trappings, of natural wine farming and elevage (I might break my hand patting myself on the back for that pun).

The first bottle was horribly flawed as only a natural wine can be. This one is a slightly dull, brickish red color. The nose has no overt flaws although there is some VA that could be considered complementary. The aroma is thus slightly sour and winey, supported by fragrant cranberry and pomegranate fruit that was noticeably lacking last time around.

Light to medium on the palate, the fruit is aggressively sour throughout, reminiscent of a sour beer. Ir attains a measure of balance in spite of the acid assault and finishes nicely enough with some attractive earth and ferrous notes, although with time they more resemble the actual flavor of rust.

I kinda like it but it's a touch idiosyncratic if not outright weird, and acid freaks only need apply. Where it goes from here is above my pay grade. It's also possible that I just don't "get" it. To such an assertion I would humbly submit that like the peace of God, it surpasses all understanding.
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    11/25/22, 2:08 PM - The range of experiences with his wines are innumerable, it seems. I’ve had mostly good luck, but there was one vintage of Cuvée 910 that was a struggle to get thru the 3 bottles I purchased.

Red
2019 Elio Sandri Langhe Nebbiolo Langhe DOC
11/8/2022 - JohnMcIlwain wrote:
flawed
Corked, sigh.
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    11/9/22, 2:44 PM - I don’t have a ton of 2019 Sandri, but I’m a bit skittish.

Red
2019 Domaine Guion Bourgueil Cuvée Domaine Cabernet Franc
So, it’s really easy to make fun of some folks’ love for Guion Bourgueil Domaine. It’s a Chambers (my place of employment) DI, frugal Loire expert David Lillie loves the farming and the absurdly low price, and they’ve been Bio since before most of you (and me!) were born. A conscientious cheapskate’s trifecta, if ever there was one. But what if it actually was that good? Punchy, herbal, earthy, ripe—but just ripe—with a fine flush of brambly black and red fruit fanning out on the finish? And what if the acid and tannins that lurk beneath the earth notes and fruit signal a bright future for aging? Crazy, right? But that is the case here and I’ll be damned if this isn’t singing with crisped up duck confit, lentils, and arugula with a mustard vinaigrette. Worth well more than the tariff, friends. We can still afford to drink lovely wine.
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    1/14/22, 8:32 AM - Hey @tward my comment is that for all the fancy, fashionable, and exclusive bottles that seem to drive wine in social media and the industry, this a wine beloved by people who love wine and also be people who bemoan the wine having gone all the way up to $14.99 (imagine!). And DI is short for direct import. Thanks for your comment and taking the time to read the note, in addition to your kind words about Chambers.

  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    10/11/22, 8:36 AM - @sleepyhaus Those Guions do keep chugging along. I still have some venerable bottles socked away. Might be time to grab one or two from storage. Fine reds for this time of year.

Red
2019 Domaine Monier Perréol St. Joseph Syrah
9/24/2022 - MuddyBoots wrote:
No decant. Quite dark. At this early stage this wine is entirely informed by its fruit, which is simply the most beautiful expression of meticulously farmed fully ripe syrah. Smoke. Gently ferral - just a little funk on the nose. Dark berries. There must be adequate acid here, because the wine isn't at all flabby, but I didn't notice it. Tannins also are buried in fruit. 14.3%. Correct length but not more - though after an hour this seems to have more persistence. And the thoroughly ripe tannins also do show up on the back end by the second glass, taking up residence on the gums. Everything suggests this needs time - seven years perhaps. A decant might blow off the slight funk (though this persisted to the next day) but the structural components of the wine are so covered in fruit they don't really need it. There is today a softness to the wine because the architecture is so thoroughly covered. This fabulous fruit alone is worth the price of admission and if you want a rush of beautiful ripe young syrah and are Ok with the slight notes of roadkill this is the wine for you. But I would wait, because I always do. My first Monier Perreol.
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    9/28/22, 7:42 PM - Monier-Perreol still manages to fly under the radar and I love them for it. Great farming produces wine with brio and intermediate—at least—charm (never had a venerable bottle).

Red
2005 Philippe Pacalet Pommard Pinot Noir
9/2/2022 - bevetroppo Likes this wine:
91 points
This comes a good six days after drinking the wine so take it with a grain of salt. I've been semi-haunted by it and it wouldn't leave me alone until I wrote something. Color was on the pale side. Effusive nose of what I think Michael Broadbent used to refer to as "beetroot" pinot fruit. Pure and sweet fruit mingled with developing sous bois on the palate. A cool impression in the mouth, with evident acidity that gave it almost a sweet/sour interplay of flavors.

It was not recognizable as Pommard to me, too light and gentle, but it had a certain ineffable appeal, fresh and with a mountain stream quality. Presumably the magic of the '05 vintage at work here too.

I had to search my notes to find the only other Pacalet wine I've had, which turned out to be an '05 Gevrey 1er Cru I tasted 7 years ago. Interestingly, I was equally confused back then by the distinctive style, but at that time I didn't enjoy it. For my taste, there's a "signature" in these wines. It may or may not be from the winemaker's influence or from "nature" itself, but it seems to come at the cost of terroir, even when the wine conveys a restrained, cool appeal as this did.
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    9/5/22, 11:15 PM - Pacalet tastes like Pacalet
    For terroir best to look elsewhere. Great hair, tho.

White
2005 Domaine Gauby Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes Blanc Vieilles Vignes Grenache Blend, Grenache
8/21/2022 - LW31 wrote:
Hmm, this was a bit underwhelming and quiet. Perhaps a few years past prime? Not off but just subdued even over 2 hrs open.
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    8/23/22, 6:32 PM - Guess I should drink up.

Red
1993 Mount Mary Cabernets Quintet Yarra Valley Red Bordeaux Blend
7/11/2022 - MuddyBoots wrote:
Solid cork, though damp to the very top. Good ruby red. A little woodsy on the nose - with some leather notes - but also delicately expressive of red berries. Complex on the palate. Nothing cedar on this bottle, though the leather is once again present. Some mint. Juicy texture to the fruit. Very red fruited for a Cabernet. Some acid still, giving freshness. Fully resolved tannins - barely perceptible now. Real elegance. Very good length. It was never a powerful wine - and it's precision and delicacy sits completely outside the norm for Australian wine of its time. This is really beautiful. At the beginning of a graceful decline, this is still in a very good place tonight. Bought in Mosman in Sydney at Vintage Cellars - about 1998. Will still keep - though the structural components are now quite slight.
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    7/12/22, 1:24 PM - Beautiful wines.

Red
2015 Philippe Pacalet Gevrey-Chambertin Pinot Noir
Delicious, crunchy deep red fruits. A fun bottle and better with some age. But as ever with the trendy and increasingly pricey natural Burg producers I just don’t get much terroir from them. And the pricing doesn’t make sense … in paris this is like 80 euros which is fine but in the US it’s maybe 50% more or even double
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    7/9/22, 12:56 PM - Great hair

White
2019 Niepoort Projectos Vinho Verde Dócil Loureiro
6/9/2022 - bevetroppo wrote:
87 points
Don't drink much vinho verde. This seems to be part of a Niepoort project that has various Docil line extensions. It's labeled Loureiro which appears to be the grape variety. That's about all I know going in.

Color a light straw with green highlights. No noticeable signs of fizz. Nose is stony and saline, maybe a little white orchard fruit and some floral overtones. Very pleasant on the palate with saline minerality, under-ripe pear in the middle, and somewhat riper yellow fruit toward the brisk, green-tasting finish. It's not exactly bitter, but not far off either.

Strikes me as a bracing aperitif at 11.5% ABV, probably best with simple uncomplicated food. It actually didn't do all that well with plain sautéed swordfish, which surprised me, as I would have guessed them to be highly compatible. Probably better when they're both fresh and on their native soil.
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    6/10/22, 9:58 AM - Probably more suited to shellfish than swordfish--not quite enough heft for the density of the fish. Maybe an nice Etna Bianco would enliven that fine pesce spada next go 'round.

Red
1993 Dominique Laurent Pommard 1er Cru La Refène Pinot Noir
6/6/2022 - MuddyBoots wrote:
Quite a bright red. Sweet nose - ripe small berried red fruits - slightly one dimensional - and oak - something of a surprise for 1993. Pleasant herbal notes. There is new oak evident on the palate too, behind which there is perhaps a Pommard of some restraint and serenity. A lot of fruit. Impressively fresh. The tannins are polished by the oak but are undeniably well mannered for a 1993. There is nothing astringent about this. Any rigorous Pommard or vintage character is buried under the cellar treatment. I am not sure I could place this in Pommard either. Fairly represents the choice you make - here is a wine no doubt more appealing to some because of how the elevage has smoothed out the edges of any more "characterful"/less attractive elements - and there is a lot of vibrant fruit still - but as a result it has lost all identity to vineyard and vintage. And why hold it ? This shows that new oak at this level never integrates into the wine - even after almost 30 years. A singe bottle bought on release for an event that never happened. Not for me, as expected.
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    6/8/22, 2:31 PM - Nothing like lashings of toasty Francois Freres oak to highlight terroir!

Red
2010 Château Haut-Bailly La Parde de Haut Bailly Pessac-Léognan Red Bordeaux Blend
5/29/2022 - JohnMcIlwain wrote:
Day one with a couple of hours open, this is a lovely bottle—all berries, cassis, cedar wood, cigar wrapper, and plummy spice on the nose with fine, if rich, texture and plenty of dark fruits and sweet ripeness on the palate with fine-grained tannins and enough acidity to prevent this from veering from velvety to jammy/chocolatey. I’m afraid that day two open reveals the brûléed oak tannins as the fruit and dry extract drop off. Perfectly enjoyable with a bit of air, but I don’t suppose long term balance is here. Not that one should hold on to 2nd wines from Bordeaux beyond 10 or 12 years. That said, if you have a some grass fed lamb chops and a short window for decanting, this is not wholly disappointing. Damning with faint praise here, but I suppose I expect more from Haut Bailly.
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    5/29/22, 7:32 PM - @chatters Corked in Eurocave at 55 degrees more or less (wine fridges being what they are). Not under Coravin as I opened at work for colleagues.

  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    5/29/22, 7:44 PM - @chatters You are welcome. And I should emphasize that my expectations for a 12-year-old 2nd wine aren’t sky high. But the bottle was really delicious on day one. The drop-off is surprising. Cheers!

Red
2010 Domaine Henri Boillot Volnay 1er Cru Les Fremiets Pinot Noir
5/18/2022 - bevetroppo Likes this wine:
92 points
The last time I opened a bottle of this it was a mistake, I misread the label and opened it too soon. This time it was premeditated and in fact I've been planning it for awhile. i am not disappointed. It's beautiful right now, just teetering on the razor's edge between primary fruit and the earliest development of secondary characteristics.

Dark garnet color. Heady nose of Volnay perfume, and I apologize in advance for saying that to me it seems feminine and seductive. There's lovely pinot fruit, ripe red berry and cherry with a soft ferrous, perhaps graphite mineral edge. Soft again on the palate, juicy but still a bit of restraint and the earliest suggestions of earthiness on the balanced, graceful finish. Hard to pick a drink date but 10 years seems fair from here.
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    5/19/22, 8:41 AM - Hubba-hubba.

Red
2002 Domaine Dujac Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Aux Combottes Pinot Noir
5/17/2022 - MuddyBoots wrote:
This is elegant and lighter than I expected, but has Gevrey flavor qualities in abundance. Enticing nose of flowers and some spice. Flows across the palate easily with silky mouthful and agreeably resolved tannin. Fundamentally quite gentle relative to my expectations but balanced and complex and completely fulfilling if somehow not especially memorable. To my taste lacks a little thrust and insistence, though no shortage of length. Lovely. My only bottle . Ready. Bought on release
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    5/17/22, 7:27 PM - A lovely bottle. Thanks for sharing.

Red
1999 Domaine Ghislaine Barthod / Barthod-Noëllat Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Fuées Pinot Noir
5/16/2022 - JohnMcIlwain wrote:
Some nights wines have everything going for them and sometimes it’s a root day, a thunderstorm and Barthod from the Bonnes Mares side of Chambolle. A 1999 to boot. This ranged from sullen and inexpressive to downright misanthropic. One senses there’s plenty of wine there, but maybe another few years in the cellar are in order. Thank you to KB even if this bottle was a bit “stern.”
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    5/17/22, 7:24 PM - You ain’t wrong, but when they’re angry they’re real angry.

Red
2020 Azienda Agricola Maccario - Dringenberg Rossese di Dolceacqua
5/4/2022 - bevetroppo wrote:
So rarely do we even see a bottle of Rossese that it immediately warrants a note just to prove it wasn't a mirage. This is arguably the main red grape of Liguria, where the proximity to the sea tends to favor fish-friendly white grapes like vermentino/pigato and some other native varieties. I believed Rossese is indigenous and not another name for something else, but checking Ian D'Agata's Native Grapes of Italy, I find it is identical to a Provencal red called Tibouren, and both sides fiercely claim it was their's first. As Ian notes, we all have enough other things to worry about.

The wine has a bright light red purple color, very pretty in the glass. The nose is intriguing, full of spice, dark red berries, maybe black cherry?, pepper and herbal scrub notes. It's distinctive, and I'm scratching my head for a good comparison. It's light-bodied on the palate and at first, searingly dry and a touch bitter, to the point where I had to say I wasn't enjoying it. Not tannic, the tannins are somewhat mild, although a bit spiky on the finish. It's almost mean-spirited and I can't tell if it needs air or more time or this is just it's personality. Presuming dolceacqua means "sweet water," it couldn't be further from the truth! I'm going to let it rest overnight and see what's going on tomorrow..

Ok, so we did not have a miraculous conversion. I picked up some bitter orange I hadn't noticed on day 1. There's a fair amount of complexity here but it's so lean on the palate I can't get exited. My friend John might cry "scalped!," a form of cork taint that surgically removes the fruit, but I have no other evidence to support that conclusion. i'll have to try another one to do that and I'm not looking froward to it.
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    5/7/22, 9:34 AM - Bevetroppo, Sometimes a wine is just wan(ting).

Red
2010 Domaine Joliet Fixin 1er Cru Clos de la Perrière Pinot Noir
5/2/2022 - MuddyBoots wrote:
I have to confess upfront I wanted to like this - to validate my having bought ten bottles purely on faith that this terroir ought to be special, given it’s pristine location high on the Fixin slope, aligned with vineyards in Brochon that evidently are very good indeed - such as Gevrey Evocelles and even neighboring Queue de Hareng - and having regard to its historical status. Jeanne-Marie des Champs - who imports the wine into the USA - had told me a few years back to wait on this a while yet. Decanted 30 minutes. Very ruby red. Darkly fruited but restrained nose of some distinction with florals and pleasant savory elements but slightly muddled in composition. Altogether serious and not even aspiring to be pretty. Concentrated ripe cherry fruit on the palate, seemingly a little extracted by todays standards, though this sensation may be amplified by it certainly not yet being relaxed. Seems a little wound up on itself. An inner sweetness. But not (yet) really complex. Lacks a little delicacy and nuance and lift. Well behaved tannin. Long. This wine was made to be a long haul wine and on this showing I remain of the view it is a terroir on which one should take a chance (for the current $95). But it's likely a long wait and don’t expect sparkle or exuberance or pretty aromatics or fireworks. It’s not Griottes-Chambertin. It is a bit sombre and introverted. But it is surely elegant and distinguished and worthy. It got better and better over an hour - some delicacy emerging from behind the curtain. Suggest waiting five more years. Bought on release. Next day - I noticed the level of extraction more. The fruit is dense and a little ponderous. At a tasting in 2022 Joliet conceded he may have extracted a little too much in 2010. But beautiful expression of tannins.
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    5/2/22, 7:11 PM - Had Charlopin left by then? I seem to recall them being heavy-handed.

Red
1993 Jacques Cacheux & Fils Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru La Croix Rameau Pinot Noir
3/20/2022 - MuddyBoots wrote:
Cork marked to within a centimeter of it's top but solid. Still a good red. The most beautiful expression of Vosne-Romanee at 30 years on the nose - elegant small red fruits with complexity. Just a touch of forest floor on the palate now, overlaying detailed red fruits which are ripe but only just and by the second glass there is also a sensation of a little greenness. Silky juicy Vosne texture. Still a little fine grained tannin and enough acid to give a certain resonance in the mouth. Lacks a little length. Even at its venerable age this is very Vosne and a wine of evident merit, as befits its prestigious location in the village. Better I expect ten years ago but still with plenty to offer. Drink soon. Bought on release.

A bottle tasted two years ago had a less impressive cork and some dry tannins.
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    3/23/22, 12:15 PM - I've never had the Cacheux bottling, only the Coudray-Bizot. Curious, did you open in advance or decant? Thanks.

Red
2015 Eric Texier Côtes du Rhône-Brézème Vieille Serine Domaine de Pergaud Syrah
A fascinating, though certainly unexpected Vieille Serine Domaine de Pergaud from Eric Texier. Given the vintage reputation one might expect a bruiser, a brawler, a blunderbuss pointed menacingly at the face—all structure and sublimated charm. But where are the brutal tannins? The stewed fruits? The heat? If you are expecting that brawn and burliness, best to look elsewhere. That said, the 2015 tickles the palate with ripples of wild berry fruit, aromas of crushed violets and pastilles, with fine-grained (and lurking) tannins, and just a whisper of black pepper and game. And while decidedly mid-weight, this dances about the ring more like a bantam weight: finesse married with sneaky power—punching above its weight indeed. And lest one think it’s insubstantial or lacking gravitas, there’s startling persistence and detail belied by its relative generosity. I suspect there’s a more “serious” wine that will emerge from within, but in the meantime, this was delicious with braised duck legs in red wine with mushrooms, though fresher and less structured than expected. But as they say, it’s always the quiet ones.
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    3/22/22, 4:50 PM - It’s certainly unexpected, but I’ll venture more time will reap greater depth than I’m expressing in this note.

Red
1999 Frédéric Magnien Morey St. Denis 1er Cru Les Ruchots Pinot Noir
3/17/2022 - MuddyBoots wrote:
Quite dark color. Cherries mixed with earth overlayed by present but not overwhelming forest floor aromas. - some oak - all lacking a certain finesse and suggesting an imposing if not rustic palate to come. A little more than medium weight on the palate, with good depth of complex fruit on the darker side of the red spectrum. Very Morey in its flavors. The oak noticeable still. Some gentle sousbois. The fruit sweetened up over an hour. Fine grained tannins - not yet completely resolved. Pretty forthright wine. Though not without interest, it fails to deliver all the detail you would hope for given that Ruchots is surely the finest premier cru in Morey. Very good but not better, which it probably should be given the terroir and vintage. Bought on release.
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    3/18/22, 3:08 PM - Have 1999s come around? I guess I should check in one of these days.

Red
2006 Fattoria di Fèlsina Berardenga Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia Chianti Classico DOCG Sangiovese
Sometimes curiosity gets the best of you and it’s (kinda) rewarded. Fairly dark robe with some bricking at the meniscus. The nose is awash in Morello cherry, bramble, game, and forest floor, with a flush of brown butter/sugar on the edges. The palate is broad on the attack—it’s ‘06, so I’m not exactly surprised—but has real drive on the mid-palate, though there’s a juicy richness that is a long for the ride. And while this is on the way to resolving, it’s just hinting at tertiary character with the tannins softening and there’s still a bit of the cooperage showing; not distracting, but not completely knit either. Nonetheless, this is very satisfying if not quite ready for the show. Check back in 4-7 years. I’d buy again, but I’d certainly hold longer.

Day 4: This is a completely different and even better wine. Underlying structure is still present, but the nose has unfurled like a magnificent banner and there’s an elemental sweetness (ripeness, not sugar) that has emerged. This has gone from very, very good to excellent. Given how this is showing on day 4, I’d wait 6-8 years before opening. Beautiful bottle that exceeds my expectations. Bravo!
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    3/7/22, 2:50 PM - I suspect it will always be a bit more zaftig than the 2004, but I definitely get the sense it will become more balanced and knit.

White
2017 Luis A. Rodriguez Vazquez Ribeiro Viña de Martin A Teixa Treixadura
Muted and a touch aromatically off putting upon opening. But oxygen and a bit of warming in the glass right this. Though it takes a good 20-30 minutes to go from somewhat vegetal/ vaguely Muscadet-like to bright and sea spray fresh with notes of apple peel and Meyer lemon oil and wet stone. The palate similarly gains weight and depth with time in the glass, with salt and stone fruit leading the way, fleshed out by white cherry and golden apple flavors. I suspect this is in something if an awkward phase, as all the pieces are there, if somewhat not quite in harmony yet. Will check back in a year to see how this comes together.
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    3/2/22, 10:47 AM - I’d wager you’re correct. It was a tough vintage weather-wise. Hopefully it sorts itself out.

Red
2010 Domaine Bruno Clair Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru La Dominode Pinot Noir
3/20/2019 - champuglia Likes this wine:
94 points
Showing so nicely at 9 years old, with a bright bouquet of purple, very purple, fruits. Cassis, plum and blackberry mixes well on the palate with earthier, tobacco leaf notes. Slight spice on the nose almost translates to a hint of gaminess. Fantastic mineral touch develops over the course of the decant, but it translates on the finish to a tannic gripe (not too much). Very nuanced, yet a beautiful portrait of what SLB is all about.
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    3/2/22, 10:01 AM - It's finally chewed up all that lumber? Bravo.

Red
2019 Domaine Des Vignes du Maynes (Julien Guillot) Bourgogne Clos des Vignes du Maynes Cuvée Auguste Pinot Noir
2/19/2022 - bevetroppo wrote:
flawed
Don't know what's going on here but it's not good.

The wine is not overtly corked or mousey or consumed by VA. It just tastes bad, sort of metallic and dirty, no discernible fruit, unfocused and essentially unpleasant.

It's an ultra-traditional non-interventionist wine, and when I say ultra- we're talking about recreating the 12th century plus or minus. I've had other wines and vintages from this property and they can be soulful and complex, but this one isn't and since the wine is not cheap, I'm kinda bummed. I kept drinking it bravely over two nights hoping it would improve but no such luck.
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    2/22/22, 8:38 AM - Hmmmm, that's strange. I've had that wine a few times from the vintage; certainly not how it performs. Tom, look out for an email from me.

Red
2016 Bibbiano Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Vigna del Capannino Chianti Classico DOCG Sangiovese Blend, Sangiovese
Look, I'm an outlier and I admit it right upfront. i've generally ignored the whole Gran Selezione thing because I was just getting happy with the many efforts across Chianti to return to something approaching well-made, authentic wines without merlot or some other adulterant and that offer some level of refreshment when this phenomenon hit. No one should be blamed for trying to upsell their patrimony, but clubbing the wines with wood and alcohol just doesn't seem like the right way to go. It's almost like Parker getting the final word after having been repudiated everywhere else people really care about wine.

Case in point in tonight's ungainly 15% wood-embalmed monster. Yes there was some extracted kirsch-driven fruit and spice, and the possibility exists that at some point it will knit together into something Gran for lack of a better word. But it's not what I want in a Chianti Classico no matter what you call it. There's a lot of other refined sangiovese out there with more curb appeal.

This was well loved by Antonio Galloni who knows a lot more about wine and what the public wants than I do. He said: "Black cherry, leather, lavender, espresso and spice all develop effortlessly." i wood if I could.
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    2/1/22, 3:46 PM - Gran Selezione is Italian for that's a lotta lumber.

Red
2020 Domaine du Moulin (Hervé Villemade) Gamay Vin de France
12/17/2021 - bevetroppo wrote:
I fought this wine to a standstill over two days, mainly because for most of the first 36 hours I thought it was flawed. There was some short bright gamay fruit quickly subsumed by an onslaught of dirt. It wasn't brett or a mineral quality-it was like drinking a mouthful of dirt. You can see where that might be problematic.

On day two, and quite miraculously for an inexpensive gamay-labeled Vin de France, with a very strange Modigliani kind of prominent booty motif on the front label, it seemed to improve, perhaps aided by a full day of refrigeration. The cold knocked down the dirt and the added oxygen sweetened the fruit and even gave it a cocoa edge. It was at that point I spun the otherwise mute bottle around and saw one helpful word on the back-"Loire." But in that inscrutable New France way, the producer was like, ok, if I am stuck with a Vin De France label, you're stuck figuring out what the hell is really going on here.

Turns out "Loire" in this case means, who knows? The producer is ostensibly based in Cheverny and makes a boatload of wines from grapes both grown and purchased. The gamay in question comes from organically farmed 40-year old vines with no sulfur added until bottling. Early thoughts I had that this might just be a bad natural wine weren't completely off base...

But as I hung in there, it occurred to me the dirt was like an amplified version of the attractive slaty quality I experience in some Loire cab franc. Was this a terroir effect, or something else entirely? Since i don't know the answer I'm not going to rate this wine. Like the peace of God, it passeth all understanding.
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    12/18/21, 8:41 AM - If I'm not mistaken, those are purchased grapes from the Vallée du Cher sorta by Touraine. Clay and flint soils. Partial whole-cluster, some de-stemmed. I can see how the fine-grain of the tannins have that analog in Cabernet Franc.

White - Sparkling
2002 Raphaël & Vincent Bérêche Champagne Vallée Champagne Blend
11/26/2021 - LW31 wrote:
A bit of a bruiser, touch oxidative, medium golden color. Dense fruit. Lacking some necessary energy and excitement. But held up well with early Thanksgiving bites.
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    11/26/21, 12:00 PM - The Maison wines were always hard to judge.

Red
1991 Domaine Armand Rousseau Père et Fils Chambertin Chambertin Grand Cru Pinot Noir
10/20/2021 - MuddyBoots wrote:
A wine much liked at the Domaine, this lived up to expectations. High fill. Flavors simply explode on the palate - expanding to all corners of the mouth. Earthy. Mixed red fruits. Some considerable power. A wine of forceful presence on the plate but also complexity and layered detail. Tremendous length. A wine of real vigor still. Everything in balance. Simply excellent. People more experienced with this wine over many vintages said this was an utterly memorable example of why this wine is so iconic in the panoply of fine Burgundy. A much maligned vintage. Will surely keep still a decade or two. Sadly my only bottle. Grey market import to the US. Peter Thurstrup capsule. Bought on release.
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    10/21/21, 12:58 PM - A sublime bottle. Thank you again for sharing it.

White
2002 Nicolas Joly Clos de la Coulée de Serrant Savennières-Coulée de Serrant Chenin Blanc
10/5/2021 - MuddyBoots wrote:
I believe this wine - which was bought on release - is the wine Nicolas Joly intended it to be. I accept is is not flawed. But by anybody’s reckoning this is not a conventional wine. It is a dry wine made with grapes some (meaningful) portion of which are left to form early stage botrytis. Everything about this wine flows from this. Nicolas Joly believes this level of botrytis is part of the terroir. No note of mine on how any particular vintage is showing or progressing will be helpful. Before making assessments of one vintage over another you have to ask yourself if you like this style. It is pretty binary. Surely not much middle ground here. A wine so different in its definition of what constitutes quality than how common wisdom customarily would define it. I am willing to keep trying Coulee de S in the hope I will one day see the light, but nothing about this wine in vintage 2002 changed my mind. A choice....Bought on release.
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    10/13/21, 3:29 PM - Every time I open one of his bottles, rather than say, those made by his mother all I can think is, "Well, that's a choice..."

Red
1994 Henschke Shiraz Mount Edelstone Eden Valley
9/16/2021 - MuddyBoots wrote:
Cork came out easily but actually only damp to a third of its length. Softly fruited nose of baked dark berries - jammy for sure - borderline stewed. Quite sweet. Vanilla. Some gentle spice. Layered. Similar flavors on the palate which is complex and showing some smokey and vanilla notes (this saw new American and French oak). Medium plus body - the fruit is juicy and ripe but the volume is not excessive. You don't get any sense of unnatural exaggeration. 14.2%. Some gentle acid still. But the tannins fully resolved. Average length, which is not helped by the wine lacking the needed acid level to give it drive on the finish. Ultimately now a soft wine with no hard edges. I liked it more than did my wife. Surely past its best now but still has something to offer if you like it's now complex fruit flavors and are OK with the jammy fruit profile and oak flavors. Questionable provenance (trip through Panama Canal in a steel container)
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    9/28/21, 9:39 AM - Does this bottle date from your sojourn in Australia? Thanks!

Red
2018 Bedrock Wine Co. Old Vine Zinfandel California
I’ll confess to not remembering the last time I drank a young Zinfandel (maybe Sky Zinfandel a few years ago?), but it’s been a minute. And despite having a few bottles of Bedrock Evangelho, I’ve been remiss in checking in on the Old Wine Zinfandel. But a wonderful bottle of 1987 Ravenswood enjoyed with a colleague and a chance sighting of the 2018 reminded me that I probably could use more dry-farmed California heritage wines at the table. Served at cellar temperature. The robe is a dark ruby, rather than inky purple and translucent to the meniscus. The nose is brambly and red-fruited, with notes of game, spice, and black raspberry seed. The palate is concentrated—but by no means over-extracted or roasted—with a fine thrust of plummy red fruit, wild hedge fruit, and despite it being “entry level,” there’s plenty of deep earth and soil tone to maintain interest. There’s fine acidity and certainly some tannins, which keep things ‘upright.’ And while there’s a bit of discernible wood here (nothing overt, dear reader), this carries itself with aplomb despite the ripeness of the vintage. Terrific with binchotan-grilled lamb loin chops from Dickson's and a sautée of corn and chanterelles; it certainly stood up to the grass-fed lamb, while not overwhelming the corn and wild mushroom. This is a lovely bottle and worth the tariff. And structurally, I can see this gaining complexity and interest with 7-12 years in the cellar. Re-buy? Sure, there’s a plenty of interest here, but I’d certainly advocate for serving at cellar temp and allowing the wine to open up. Also, it bears mentioning, this is a real bargain. Not “cheap,” but an excellent value. Well worth seeking out.
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    9/24/21, 5:36 PM - Thank you for the feedback. Cheers!

Red
1998 Domaine Michel Lafarge Volnay Vendanges Sélectionnées Pinot Noir
9/8/2021 - MuddyBoots wrote:
I decanted this 60 minutes because some prior bottles had initially troubling “dirty wood” / “stewed vegetable” aromas. Dark hue - paling throughout. No problems with the aromas of this bottle. They suggest the fruit on the palate will be pretty ripe, and sure enough it is. Quite a lot of volume on the palate too. Full for a Volnay. Impressive line of acid for the vintage. The wine maintains some elegance and the prettiness of Volnay’s pure red fruit is very present, wrapped in the slightly austere Lafarge style. Nothing too savory here. Tannins are in attendance but correct, showing just a little dryness on the very back end. Fine. No hurry to drink this, as is the way with Lafarge. Lovely Volnay in the fuller stye of the vintage. Bought on release.
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    9/9/21, 4:12 PM - Thanks for the note. I'll confess to finding so many of the wines inscrutable throughout their lives. I may need to check in on the bottle I have left of this.

Red
2004 Schiavenza Barolo Bricco Cerretta Nebbiolo
Following longstanding advice from Chambers Street Wines regarding older Barolo (and this isn't really all that old) I decided to give the bottle plenty of air, opening it around 1PM. Good thing too, because the first impression after opening was like, what? Red/brown at best on the rim, chunky and monolithic on the nose and barely anything but wood on the palate.

Five hours later Lazurus began to stir. Some sweet oaky notes and subdued red fruit emerged joining acetone and alcohol on the nose. The palate was lean with fruit clearly overrun by the persistent astringent tannins. I'm going to give this the rest of the night off and see if anything improves by tomorrow...

It's a day later and there's still no joy in Mudville. In fact, the muddy color was a clue to a wine that reminds me of old school over-oaked Rioja before modern hygiene was introduced and so many bottles just tasted like dead fruit, dry leather and wet wood. Hard to say whether this is a bad bottle or a bad wine at this point.

Schiavenza has gotten a lot of favorable press recently and I thought it worth investigating their practices in the wake of this unpleasant experience. Imagine my surprise (not!) when I found this paragraph on the importer's website:

"Over the last few vintages, Schiavenza has made some subtle but effective changes in the cellar. There is a gentler approach to extraction and when the press wine is used, it comes from their new, delicate hydraulic vertical basket press. The length of aging in bottle for the Barolos has also been reduced, coming down to around 30 months whereas it had previously been 36+ months. Getting the wines into bottle earlier has helped preserve the fruit for the long haul."

No shit, Sherlock. I guess we should be wary of anything older than the last few years here per their advice. I have another bottle to try and can only hope for better luck next time.
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    9/4/21, 7:16 AM - Tom,
    Curious--beyond the astringent tannins, was there that bruléed French oak element indicating fancy cooperage? I'm referring to the brown sugar palate gloss rather than aromatics (François Frères barrels on Cali Pinot comes to mind). Or was it a dried out woody astringency? Otherwise, I wonder if the wine isn't scalped by low grade TCA. Not trying to make a silk purse, but your pig's ear sounds like it may be a slightly flawed pig's ear. Cheers!

  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    9/6/21, 11:35 AM - Low grade scalped is a weird one to get one’s head around. It’s just enough that only the structure seems to remain. Sort of like the chimney left standing after the rest of the house has gone following a fire. And in the case where there’s no there there, there’s not even the “no there” there.

  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    9/6/21, 1:02 PM - Glad you had fun. Curious about your thoughts on the Voillot Champans, I went long on that in 2016. Cheers!

  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    9/6/21, 1:52 PM - Thanks for the brief note. I was a little nervous that it may have shut down. Glad to hear it was agreeable. Jean-Pierre Charlot did quite well—given the frost and rain—in 2016.

Red
1999 Giuseppe Quintarelli Valpolicella Classico Superiore Corvina Blend, Corvina
With a pan-roasted veal chop and morels. I thought I had a couple of 2004 or 2005 Primofiore left in the wine fridge, but found 1999 Valpolicella instead. Given I was in a Quintarelli mood, I gave this a quick decant. The nose took a bit of coaxing, but dried cherries, spice, cafe au lait, and balsam notes emerge. The wine is rich and concentrated (and a broad 15 degrees alcohol), with loads of spice, red plum, dried cherry, and menthol notes dancing across the ripe, concentrated palate. Signore Quintarelli didn’t release an Amarone only Rosso del Bepe in 1999 and it isn’t hard to imagine some of what would have been the big wine having made its way into the “humble” Valpolicella or Rosso Ca’ del Merlo. The wine is delicious, if a bit zaftig for what’s on the plate, but a hunk of Vacche Rosso Parmigiana awaits, so there’s hope. As for the veal and morels, I suspect Primofiore would have been a prettier and more felicitous selection. And given that I have a couple of the Valpolicella remaining, perhaps Fall, polenta, short ribs, and porcini will prove more rewarding. And should you have a bottle, the structure is resolving nicely, but this shares more with Amarone than your typical Valpolicella, so plan your meal accordingly.
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    6/25/21, 8:00 AM - Thanks. It’s a handy word at times. Cheers!

White - Sparkling
2016 Emilien Feneuil Champagne Cuvée Totum Champagne Blend
5/5/2021 - adnorthup wrote:
flawed
Opened two bottles, first one showed wonderful orchard fruit initially but finished with a very unpleasant over oxidative style note showing no freshness at all. Another bottle was opened showing no real fruit and the same unpleasant qualities on the finish. Both bottles from the same source, so maybe an issue with the batch...anyone have an alternative experience?
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    6/2/21, 10:33 AM - The wine can be a little backwards on arrival, as it's bottled without sulfur. It showed a bit mousy on arrival in mid April, though a bottle drunk on May 28th showed plenty of stone fruit flavors and pretty aromatics and nothing in the way of overly oxidative notes. (Just as a data point.)

Red
2016 Ziereisen Schulen Blauer Spätburgunder Baden
So one great handicap when it comes to Spätburgunder (not to mention, Alsatian Pinot Noir) beyond the fancy cooperage is this aromatic note I can best describe as “hot dog water.” It’s kind of a beefy, oniony, allspice note that sort of throws the whole experience out of whack. And while I detest the palate-deadening crème brûlée toast of ambitious barrel-aging, the whole dirty water dog thing is nearly as distracting. Now Ziereisen’s 2016 Schulen is ambitious, there’s some subtle wood influence here. Luckily it dodges the lumber character and is blessedly without the wurst of the frankfluid character. In fact, it offers up a forest floor of wild berry and red stone fruit flavors with enough sap, chalk, and energy to send one back to their Burgundy maps. Hautes Côtes? Maybe Marsannay. Is Sylvain Pataille getting freaky in Irancy? No, this is Spätburgunder of class and complexity. Darn good with roasted squab and grits. And while this is delicious, it seems just a bit more subued than the last bottle and on its way to shutting down. I’m glad I have a few more bottles to track over the next 10-12 years, as this has oodles of potential for those willing to cellar.
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    5/21/21, 5:42 PM - Thanks for your comment, the “Schoenberg” was a strange autocorrect artifact. Spätburgunder in the 20+ years I’ve been tasting and drinking it has certainly made huge strides when not buried under all the lumber. And between global warming and also, I suspect, better clonal material there’s more Pinot in Spätburgunder than ever before, if you catch my drift.

Red
2017 Domaine Rousset Crozes-Hermitage Les Picaudières Syrah
Last minute (okay, decanted for 90 minutes) sub for a corked bottle of Balthazar 12 Cornas Casimir. Pretty nose, red flowers and blue fruits with just a bit of the young Syrah gaminess lending interest. And a touch of balsamy wood (I’ll get to that later). Fairly dense and textured on the palate with ripe blue fruit and game notes with a bit of black pepper and cedar bring up the rear. Plenty of tannins currently sheathed with the bountiful dry extract. This is a young wine and shows it. The woody bit is an occasional feature of just-past young Syrah and oft-maligned by folks who haven’t experienced it. As Claude Kolm has pointed out, you can wait it out and it knits imperceptibly. And as a way of example, there are plenty of folks who’ve mistaken M. Texier for Jean-Luc Colombo when such a comparison is clearly spurious. Back to the wine: honestly, give this 7-10 years and beyond and it will shine, but right now it’s mostly (vast) potential. Enjoyable with venison and a wild blueberry/red wine reduction, but not yet the wine it should be. Hold for sure.
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    4/6/21, 7:17 AM - Hey Tom, I commented further down the thread. To the effect that Claude Kolm has noted the phenomenon and often that brûléed character (more textural than aromatic) does seem to recede with time in most cases. Just how much time is certainly debatable.

White
2017 Jean-Claude Rateau Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Beaune Blanc Chardonnay
4/26/2019 - bevetroppo Likes this wine:
89 points
Really delightful with ample yellow orchard, pear and peach fruit on the nose and palate. Held in alignment with deft wood and racy acid on the bone dry finish. Delicious on its own and the entirely believable 12% labeled alcohol makes it easy to pair.

Rateau was an early adopter of biodynamics in Burgundy and here he demonstrates the wines can be as fresh and pretty as the vines themselves.
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    5/17/19, 11:46 AM - Rateau was 4th vigneron in France to adopt biodynamics the and 1st in Burgundy for those keeping score. Nice note!

Red
2005 Domaine Chandon de Briailles Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru Ile des Vergelesses Pinot Noir
3/6/2015 - bevetroppo Likes this wine:
91 points
'05. Need I say more. When it's right, it's just right. Pretty pale magenta. Very expressive nose, darker red fruits beyond cherry, ok maybe kirsch, somehow lacquered in to make it more intense, though those words really don't make any sense. Something ineffable behind the fruit, I dunno, there's earth and an almost vinyl-like but at the same time appealing and not chemical or artificial flavor. Wish I could put my finger on it, but I feel like Tantalus and it's just beyond my grasp.

Beautiful ripe red fruits in the mouth, exploding berries, perfectly balanced. Good to go.
  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    5/2/15, 12:50 PM - The ineffable thing is a shit ton of stems.

  • JohnMcIlwain commented:

    5/2/15, 8:04 PM - I tasted there and then had a dinner with the gracious Claude de Nicolay and her husband Frédéric Drouhin. And stem inclusion is the unifying theme of Chandon de Briailles at least back to 1993. Natural, but stemmy. Not completely my cup of meat, but chacun a son gout...

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